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Greg Daniels (executive producer/co-creator): In the very beginning, the episode was called “Virginia Woolf” in my notes, and the idea was to have Jim and Pam have this super-uncomfortable night seeing all the awkwardness of Michael and Jan’s relationship and watching it melt down in front of them, in a comedy version of the Albee play.
Lee Eisenberg (co-writer): We set it up so in the cold open Michael pretends there’s an emergency.
Taking the action away from the Dunder Mifflin office, “The Dinner Party” provides a rare glimpse into the home life of regional manager Michael Scott (Carell) as he hosts an impromptu get-together for three couples: salesman Jim Halpert and receptionist Pam Beesly, salesman Andy Bernard and accountant Angela Martin, and party-crasher Dwight Schrute and his former babysitter/current lover, Melvina.
The previous season had seen Jim and Pam finally get together after years of flirtation; Michael had also found love – with Jan Levinson, his former boss.
Michael Scott is always the fool, but in this moment he outsmarts Jim and Pam because he so desperately wants to hang out with them.
Greg Daniels (executive producer/co-creator): I had an expression that I used in the writers room to describe a scene where the situation was charged, where several characters had different opinions and there was an excuse for them to all sit around and fire off great lines one at a time.
I called it a “killing field,” like it was just nonstop joke-joke-joke.
Jim has a talking head [where the actors speak directly to the camera], and he’s like, “I’m starting to think there was no work thing.” There’s a little bit of a grudging respect to Michael. Show a guy pushing a woman down the stairs.” I’m paraphrasing, but there’s something to that. We’re such huge fans of the British Office and we wanted to write an episode more in that tone.
Gene Stupnitsky (co-writer): There’s a quote, “How do you make someone laugh? Lee Eisenberg (co-writer): An episode like this lives a lot in the awkward pauses.